public servant


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public servant (plural public servants)

  1. A person employed by the government. [from 17th c.]
    Synonym: civil servant
    • 2003, Judith Brett, Australian Liberals and the Moral Middle Class: From Alfred Deakin to John Howard, page 145,
      Whitlam redefined the Labor Party as the party of Deakinite liberalism and the natural home of good public servants like his father. He was, he said, the first Prime Minister of Australia who had lived in Canberra, ‘the son of a great public servant, among whose colleagues were great public servants’.
    • 2010, Malcolm Fraser, Margaret Simons, Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs, page 192,
      Today, Fraser says of Tange: ‘He was one of the best public servants Australia has ever had’.
    • 2012, Rodney Smith, Ariadne Vromen, Ian Cook, Contemporary Politics in Australia: Theories, Practices and Issues, page 242,
      While the Westminster system has not changed over the past 30 years, there has been major cultural change amongst Australian public servants.
  2. (historical) Someone who labours for the public good; a convict assigned to work on public projects. [from 16th c.]
    • 1656, James Harrington, Oceana:
      And whosoever shall refuse any one of his three Essays [...] shall be deem'd a Helot or public Servant, shall pay a fifth part of his yearly Revenue, besides all other Taxes, to the Common-wealth for his Protection, and be incapable of bearing any Magistracy except such as is proper to the Law.
    • 1671, John Milton, Samson Agonistes:
      Immediately / Was Samson as a public servant brought, / In thir state Livery clad; before him Pipes / And Timbrels, on each side went armed guards, / Both horse and foot before him and behind / Archers, and Slingers, Cataphracts and Spears.
    • 1802, George Barrington, The history of New South Wales including Botany Bay, Port Jackson, Parramatta, Sydney, and all its Dependancies, page 250,
      [] notwithstanding an order which was given by Governor Phillip, in which the colony were informed, that the public servants (convicts) had no property, their clothing, time, and labour, being the property of the Government, and not at their own disposal.
    • 1994, Noel George Butlin, Forming a Colonial Economy: Australia 1810-1850, page 75,
      For special reasons, the use of convicts as public servants warrants separate attention.